Self-directed support: improvement plan 2023 to 2027

Plan for all those with a role in ensuring people experience high quality social care in line with the principles and values of the Self Directed Support (SDS) Act 2013. The Plan identifies four outcome areas reflecting where improvements in how SDS is delivered are most needed.

Joint ministerial / COSLA foreword

High quality social care helps people to meet the outcomes that matter most to them, to participate in their community and help them to realise their human rights. Self-directed support, or SDS, is the way in which social care should be arranged and delivered for carers, adults, children and families in Scotland, by putting choice and control over their support front and centre.

It’s important that people are supported to live their lives in ways which are meaningful to them. Each adult, child, family and carer that accesses social care will have their own vision of what this looks like. They are experts on their own lives and must be recognised as such throughout the stages of planning and accessing care.

This plan recognises the need for a whole-system approach to improving the delivery of SDS: delivery partners across statutory, third and independent sectors all play an essential role in SDS improvement. No single public body or organisation works independently to deliver SDS. This Self-Directed Support Improvement Plan is for all those with a role in ensuring people experience high-quality social care in line with the principles and values of the Social Care SDS (Scotland) Act 2013. This includes local authorities and integration authorities, the Scottish Government, independent support organisations, third sector organisations, professional associations, and providers.

Over the years, we have made significant progress towards embedding the principles and values of SDS within social care and social work. The personalisation of care has meant people are more involved in decisions that involve them and, alongside social care and social work professionals, are able to take more creative and flexible approaches to their care and support.

There is much positive work to build on, but there is also still more to be done, in partnership, to make improvements in social care across Scotland.

This requires strong leadership, effective systems, skilled workers, sustainable investment and a strong partnership approach – including with the involvement of supported people and carers.

Development of this Plan involved engagement and consultation with supported people, carers, local authorities, third sector and independent sector organisations and included providers, commissioners, social workers, disabled people’s organisations, professional bodies, independent support organisations and individuals.

The SDS National Collaboration played an important role in shaping the approach, and members of the National Collaboration led on the engagement activities to ensure that people had the chance to include their voice, experience and knowledge. We would like to take this opportunity to thank every individual and organisation who contributed their voice to the development of this Plan.

This Plan comes at a challenging time. Health and social care systems are recovering from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are ongoing challenges in recruitment and retention of our valued workforce, increasing levels of demand, and the detrimental impact of the cost of living crisis.

There are improvements that can and must be made despite these challenges. Scottish Government and COSLA recognise the need for an ambitious approach to transforming social care. We understand our responsibilities to deliver the necessary changes in partnership with others and remain committed to listening, valuing and acting on people’s experiences of social care support.

Maree Todd, Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport

Councillor Paul Kelly, COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care



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